It wouldn’t be Christmas time without all of the traditional trappings…

You know our culture doesn't have a real war to fight when this is its hill to die on.

You know our culture doesn’t have a real war to fight when this is its hill to die on.

The lights, the gifts, time with family,

Some sermonizing from Kirk Cameron.

Now, I am assuming that most of you have not, and will not see Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas. It has a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (and a 32% user rating.) Even still, Cameron’s “movie” represents a bigger picture of American Christmastime, an annual tradition of defending tradition against the forces of paganism, liberalism, consumerism and whoever else may want to “destroy” Christmas. Every year, there is a part of our culture that makes it their mission as Christian soldiers to wage a culture war, to preserve American Christianity for the next generation.

You know what? I don’t think the liberals or the pagans or the retailers are destroying Christmas or Christianity. I think the culture warriors are. You shouldn’t not see Saving Christmas because it’s bad art. You should skip movies like Saving Christmas, because movies like this actually achieve the opposite of their goal.

It’s time we stopped trying to save Christmas and changed our priorities.

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One of the things I find so fulfilling about teaching is the idea of creating…

We are creating the next generation. Bit by bit, day by day.

That’s a job I take seriously, since I am stewarding other people’s children. I hope that the words I speak and the actions I take will build them up into strong people.

In a week and a half, give or take, I’ll embark on a new chapter. God willing, I’ll become a dad. And the job of creating a bit of the next generation will become much more personal.

Cheri and I have spent the last weeks and months dreaming about the kinds of parents we want to be, the kinds of things we want to do as a family, the kind of childhood we want to provide. It’s all been very romanticized. But there is no doubt, that we have also thought very seriously about what we want to do as parents to build or to create a strong man out of our son. It seems like everything around us works against that goal, and the results have been disastrous for our culture. For all of the good intentions, can anyone disagree that there are many broken young adults?

And so it is with fear that we embark on trying to make a healthy, strong man out of our boy. We will try to resist all of the forces that break and wound and scar children. And though it seems daunting, it is the far easier choice…

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Whatever you do, you can help this generation become strong. They need us to help them. The costs of letting this generation break are far too high.

It’s hard to believe that in just a couple of weeks, there is going to be a strange new person living in our house.PlusOrMinus_Revisions1_June9

We have waited nearly five years for our little man, and as much as we are excited for him, we are also excited for Plus or Minus, just a month and a half away. If you want to help us bring this book to hurting couples, now is your chance to get on the launch teamI am so thankful to all of the people who have already decided to partner with us, to join their stories with ours.

Besides this, there was a ton of great content that came across my blog feed this week!

In My Blog Reader

There is a street in my neighborhood that is lined with yard signs that say Merry Christmas. Yes, Christ in in bold, and it feels less like a friendly greeting, and more like a sharp retort that you might shout at someone. I was surprised to find The Heresy of Keeping Christ in Christmas. A must read.

I think I’m fairly pro-Santa, as I’ve seen some very redemptive ways that parents tell their children the truth when the time comes. Still, I always appreciate a well-thought reason to keep the big man out of the holiday, and that’s just what Emily Wierenga delivers. If you are on the fence about Santa invading your home, these are some great thoughts.

Jennifer Dukes Lee takes on a lot of the other collateral that comes with the holiday: the stress, the endless social obligations, and discusses how to actually have an enjoyable holiday.

Finally, there was a whole cluster of blogs dealing with choice. Tracee Persiko discusses why hope is not a condition that falls upon us, but is an active choice we make. Hannah Brencher talks about not backing up her phone’s contents and the choice of making new beginnings. Emily Freeman discusses what seemingly is becoming more and more counter-intuitive: choosing connection over competition.

That’s what fueled, encouraged and challenged me this week. What about you?

Last Saturday, I participated in a local author fair at our local library. It was a good time to meet people, talk to other writers, and give away free previews of Plus or Minus.

The first woman awkwardly approached my table. She wore a shapeless brown coat and dragged a small child along.

I told her about my books. “This one is about coping with infertility.”

She let out a little puff of a laugh and said, “Yeah, I wish I was infertile.”Infertility E-Cards

The very first person, the very first member of the public to react to my face told me she wished she was infertile.

I guffawed a little because my natural inclination is to try to deflect any awkwardness that happens in my presence. I should have told her that was a terrible thing to say. I should have told her that there are medical procedures that can help her. I wanted to say anything to confront the blatant thoughtlessness of that comment.

But I did not.

The awkward women dragged her burdensome child along, and the rest of the day went along pleasantly. No one else was rude. We gave away lots and lots of previews.

But it reminded me that for most people, infertility is just not in their vocabulary. It’s so much not in their vocabulary, that the first thing that comes out of their mouths is often rude, thoughtless or even unintentionally cruel.

People have said a lot of unintentionally rude things to Cheri and I over the years. Please, when you run into people who are unhappily childless, resist the urge to respond with these phrases.

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Around this time of year, I’m always a little bit sad, a bit reflective.

It’s because one of my favorite annual activities is coming to an end.

See, I love teaching my Art History class. I get the high school seniors for a semester and we walk through history, beginning to end.

On day one, I tell them what my goal is. I want them to become people who love art. I want them to become people who will enjoy art for the rest of their lives. They need the rest of their lives, because there is no way we can cover it all in a semester.

The thing is, I tell them on day one that my goal for them is not a goal that can achieve as their teacher.

As a teacher, I can present the information. I can make the information as appealing as I am able. I am able to put my whole heart into it.

But I cannot make students love art. They are like horses. You can’t make stubborn creatures drink. And if students are bound and determined to hate the thing you are teaching, there really isn’t anything you can do about it.

The fact is, all of our teachers only gave us a piece of the puzzle. What we all have to realize as students is that most of the work of learning and exploring and loving will not be on a syllabus or rubric because those things cannot fit neatly into a teacher’s grade book. As a teacher, sure, I feel a little inadequate when I realize just how little I can give my students. But as a person, I realize that the responsibility is on me, not anyone else, to teach me to love this world and everything in it.

Even Dr. Seuss understood that…

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Today, let’s learn like no one is giving us a grade.

It’s been one of those weeks that has been almost overwhelming to try to keep up with the flood of writing that has been turned out by people all over the country.

And much of it, I’ve had to kind of strain out. I have not been able to read it all.

Nevertheless, there has been a lot of great stuff to read and engage with this week. Here are a few snippets.

In My Blog Reader

Of all of the things that have been written about race relations in America today, I think the most fascinating, instructive, and honest has got to have been this story from Lawrence Otis Graham. It’s a few weeks old by now. But I read it, then read it again, then read it to my wife. This one article will be far more enlightening than another hour of CNN or Fox News ever will be.

I’ve written a few letters to my as-yet-unborn son, and so that’s why this one jumped out at me. Amena Brown Owen writes to her son cocacolanativityabout the challenges he might face in life, because of the way the world looks today. If I already had a child, I would sit down with them tonight and have a serious discussion, no matter what the age.

On a couple of other, lighter topics, Michael Perkins’ book, Identity Crisis is now in print and it looks great!

Leigh Kramer writes a love letter to Christmas – the introverted kind.

And of course, you knew this kind of Nativity scene would have to happen sooner or later.

I’ll be spending Saturday at the Woodneath Library here in Kansas City, talking up Plus or Minus. If you are in the Kansas City area, come and see me!